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Proposed Pacifica elections guidelines

Suggestions for Incorporation into Pacifica’s Election Bylaws

Submitted By:
Carl Gunther [KPFK area]
May 7, 2002

Table of Contents

Background *

Suggestions *

Suggestions Pertaining to Listener Seats *

Number of LAB Members, Term of LAB Members, Staggering of Elections *

Grandfathering of Present LAB Members *

Qualification of Candidates *

Qualification of Voters *

Campaigning *

Tallying of Votes *

Means of Voting *

Validation of the Election *

Removal of Seated Members *

Filling of Vacancies *

Public Explication of the Tallying Process *

Suggestions Pertaining to Staff Seats *

Separate Elections for Paid and Unpaid Staff *

Secret Ballot *

Supervised Elections *

No Staggering of Staff Elections *

Automatic Candidate Qualification for Staff Elections *

Staff and Listener Seats *

Restrictions Pertaining to LAB Representatives Elected by Staff *


The agreement that resulted from the settlement of Pacifica’s lawsuits states that bylaws governing the election of Pacifica’s five Local Advisory Boards will be drafted by the end of this year, and that these will use the rules that governed the successful KPFA LAB elections of 2000 and 2001 as their starting point.

Since the KPFA elections were fairly successful events, it seems reasonable that changes proposed to the KPFA rules should be based mainly upon expected differences between the circumstances that pertained to KPFA’s past elections in the Bay Area on the one hand, and those that will pertain to elections that will be held in the changed overall circumstances of 2002 and beyond, in not only Berkeley but in the four other

signal areas. The expected differences include the following:

  • In the past elections at Berkeley, the LAB did not have significant power over the operations of the station. Starting in 2002, it is expected that LABs will be granted to-be-specified additional powers over the governance of the local stations, and also that the elected LABs may be involved in the selection of members of the PNB. This creates the probability that persons could seek seats on the LABs for other than altruistic reasons. This, in turn, suggests the need for additional safeguards to prevent persons who are not supportive of Pacifica’s mission from becoming elected to seats on the LABs, thereby subverting the mission of the network.
  • Berkeley has a tradition of activism and progressive thought that is far superior to that of any of the four other signal areas. The trust that can be invested in the listeners regarding their support for Pacifica’s mission is therefore greater at KPFA than in any of the other signal areas.
  • KPFA’s on-air content has remained more consistent with Pacifica’s mission than that that of any other station throughout the period of Pacifica’s occupation by forces hostile to its mission. This has resulted in a more mission-supportive set of listeners than is currently present at any other station.


Suggestions fall into a number of different categories, which are elaborated below.

Suggestions Pertaining to Listener Seats

Number of LAB Members, Term of LAB Members, Staggering of Elections

I suggest that the number of listener-elected seats be increased from 14 to 15, and the length of a term be increased from two years to three years, so that five candidates will be elected every year to fill vacancies caused by term expirations. This will help to ensure that the LAB is not suddenly taken over by a surprise electoral manipulation. It will also help to ensure that we always have experienced members on the LAB.

Grandfathering of Present LAB Members

Up to five members of the current LAB should be grandfathered in for a term of one year, and up to five additional members for a period of two years, so that the other third of the 15 listener-elected seats can be elected (for a three year term) in the first election.

This is intended to ensure continuity, and in fact was done in the first KPFA election (based upon 2-year rather than 3-year terms).

The pre-election LABs should be allowed to choose a balanced (for diversity) group of up to ten members from among itself as the "grandfathered" members, if it can agree unanimously upon such a group as well as the length of each candidate’s remaining term.

If it cannot agree, then the iPNB should be required to choose by a simple majority vote for this first election from among those LAB candidates who are willing to serve for an additional year, a group of up to ten (depending upon how many are willing to serve) that are as balanced as possible diversity-wise. If fewer than ten are available, then as many as are available will be grandfathered, with the first five getting one-year terms and the remainder getting two-year terms.

In case there are more than five seats left to elect in our first election as a result of this process, then the highest five candidates in the ordering for the first election will get three year seats, the next candidates will get two year seats, and the remaining candidates will get one year seats, until all seats are filled.

If the iPNB is unable to choose, then a diversity-balanced set of up to ten will be chosen at random (random, that is, except for the diversity requirements).

Diversity requirements must be applied to the first five grandfathered candidates, and to the remaining grandfathered candidates, independently.

A balanced group of ten means that ideally no fewer than four members from each diversity cohort will be present.

NOTE: If, due to the unavailability of a diverse set of current LAB members, a less then ideally diverse set of 10 members is grandfathered, this should be quickly corrected by the application of diversity criteria for the first and subsequent elections in the new manner suggested by this document, which is based upon the entire 15 listener seats and not just the 5 or more being elected in any given election (see below). In other words, if the entire 10 grandfathered LAB seats were white males, then diversity criteria would ensure that every candidate elected in the first and subsequent elections would be predominantly of color, or women, or both, (if such candidates were available) until balance was restored.

Qualification of Candidates


I suggest that the number of signatures of eligible voters that are required to nominate a candidate be increased from 10 to 50.

The KPFA method allows candidates to qualify with only 10 signatures. This could result in a field of candidates that is too full for voters to be able to properly consider the

choices before them. I believe that 50 signatures would be a more reasonable number. That would raise the bar just enough to eliminate obvious crank candidates, but should be low enough to allow any candidates with serious support to qualify.

Pledge of Support for Pacifica’s Mission

All candidates should be required to sign a pledge that they will support Pacifica’s mission statement.

Disqualifying Criteria

On-air Personalities

"On-air personalities" should be specifically prevented from running for listener LAB seats.

I propose that we define an on-air personality as anyone who has spent more than 20 hours on the air over the past year – which would be just over 20 minutes per week average, or more than a total of 4 hours (exclusive of on-air candidates’ forums) during the 45 day signature gathering period. This would include callers to call-in programs if they identify themselves by name on the air. Any half-hour interval during which the person spoke at all would count toward this total.

Also, any candidate who logged more than 4 hours on the air during the 30 day campaign period (other than at on-air candidates’ forums), even if no mention of that person’s candidacy were made, should be automatically disqualified.

Note: Such on-air personalities are members of station staff, and therefore may run for the LAB in the staff elections. This restriction is mainly intended to prevent on-air personalities from dominating the listener elections due to their high profiles and disproportionate access to the air.

Campaigning On the Air

Candidates should not be allowed to appear on the air speaking on her or his candidacy during the 30-day campaigning period, outside of the official on-air candidates’ forums. Such on-air campaigning should result in immediate disqualification.

Paid Staff Members Prohibited from Running for Listener Seats

Paid staff should be prohibited from running for listener seats, due to the conflict of interest involved in having voting seats on the LAB while being an employee of the station (i.e., for the same reason that the four seats elected by paid staff should be non-voting seats, as described in the section titled "Restrictions Pertaining to LAB Representatives Elected by Staff").

Sitting Lab Members Prohibited from Running Before Expiration of Term

Sitting LAB members whose terms are not expiring at the end of the current election process should be prohibited from running. For example, if some LAB member had one year left and wanted to run in order to obtain a three-year term, that would be prohibited.

This is intended to give non-incumbents more of a chance, and to reduce election overhead. It also is intended to preserve the staggering of terms.

Also, we should prohibit a LAB member who has resigned from her or his seat from running again until the election that coincides with what otherwise would have been the expiration of her or his term.

Compensation for Votes

Any candidate who either personally attempts to exchange money or favors for votes, or whose campaign does the same with their knowledge, should be disqualified.

Disqualification by Sitting LAB Members Not Running for Re-election

Those LAB members who are not running for re-election in the current election may, by a 2/3 majority (that is, 2/3 of the group that is not running for re-election), disqualify any candidate on the following grounds:

  • The candidate is believed to represent the interests of an organization that is hostile to Pacifica’s mission or that wishes to take control of the local station and/or of the Pacifica network.
  • The candidate has a personal history that indicates likely hostility toward Pacifica or toward its mission.

In order to exercise this prerogative, the LAB members voting to disqualify a candidate must state the reasons that they believe that the candidate satisfies their grounds for disqualification. No formal proof is required. The theory is that LAB members who frivolously disqualify a candidate using this mechanism will be punished by voters when they themselves come up for election one or two years hence. In fact, if voters are sufficiently outraged by the frivolous exercise of this prerogative, they may initiate an immediate recall election against the offending LAB members. This would prevent the LAB members from disqualifying candidates who were running against them.

The problem with this is that if the electorate has been sufficiently taken over to elect such a candidate in the first place, then there may well be a sufficient number of voters to recall the LAB members who have legitimately exercised their protective function.

Such an option to disqualify a candidate may also be exercised at the time of a recall election. This means that if an elected LAB member reveals by her or his behavior that she or he is a "stalking horse" for some hostile organization, and listeners therefore sign the necessary petitions to activate a recall election (which is for the entire slate of candidates elected in the election of the candidate to be recalled), the sitting LAB members not running in that recall election may directly disqualify the candidate in question, which would prevent that candidate from possibly being elected by voters who were supporters of that hostile organization and who may have become qualified to vote by making a contribution that was specifically made in order to bring the "stalking horse" candidate onto the LAB.

Note that the effectiveness of the measure depends upon consistently electing trustworthy members to the LABs. We are depending upon the judgment and good will of sitting LAB members to save the organization from candidates who may be toxic to the organization. If a bad batch of LAB members somehow became elected and was not recalled within a year then these could prevent a 2/3 majority of the sitting LAB from disqualifying unfriendly candidates in the next election. The price of freedom, and so on.

Qualification of Voters

Since Pacifica is a mission-based organization, the ideal voter in a LAB election would be someone who:

  • Understands Pacifica’s mission and strongly supports it
  • Understands the issues that affect Pacifica and its mission
  • Is knowledgeable about the candidates and their positions on the issues that affect Pacifica and its mission.

Voter qualification procedures should be designed in a manner that tends to select voters who satisfy the above criteria. Clearly, these criteria must work in combination with voter education to not only select persons who already meet the above criteria, but to educate voters so that they do meet the above criteria. This is, of course, a very tricky and imprecise process. Here are some suggested qualifying criteria.

Contribution of Money

Contribution of Money to the Listener and LAB Lawsuits or to the Pacifica Campaign

Since the listener and LAB lawsuits and the Pacifica Campaign were strongly focused upon returning Pacifica to its mission, and since such contributors would generally have a better than average knowledge of the issues that affect Pacifica and its mission, any person who contributed money to the lawsuits or to the Pacifica Campaign in the amount of $25.00 or more at any time prior to January 1, 2002 should be allowed to vote in the first LAB election following the mediated settlement, regardless of other qualifying criteria.

Contribution of Money to the Station

Contribution of money to the station is a more weak and conditional indicator of support for Pacifica’s mission than is a contribution to the listener and LAB lawsuits or to the Pacifica Campaign. At stations where programming has been generally focused upon Pacifica’s mission in the period immediately prior to the time that the contribution was given, it is a fairly good indicator of support for Pacifica’s mission. However, at stations that have in the past strayed from or even abandoned Pacifica’s mission, such as KPFT and WPFW, such contributions are a very poor indicator of support for Pacifica’s mission, and may even be likely to identify persons who are actively hostile to that mission, inasmuch as mission-supportive programming competes with the non-mission-related programming (e.g., country music) that they would rather hear.

Therefore, I propose that for the first election only, different criteria be applied to the various stations regarding voter qualification on the basis of contributions:

  • KPFA: Any person contributing $25 or more within the year prior to the start of the campaign period, or during that campaign period (if active voter registration as described elsewhere in this document is adopted) should be enfranchised.
  • WBAI: Any person contributing $25 or more on February 1, 2002 or later should be enfranchised.
  • KPFK: Thanks to all of us and in particular to Steven Starr (and Jon Beaupres!) we have just reached what I would personally call "critical mass" in terms of mission compliance. Any person contributing $25 or more between April 1, 2002 and the date of the election should be enfranchised.
  • KPFT: Programming there has made great strides and if that pace continues I suggest that contributions made after May 1, 2002 should qualify donors as voters.
  • WPFW: Any person contributing $25 or more between (whenever programming is sufficiently reformed to support the mission there – judging from their current online program schedule they are nowhere near being mission-compliant, since it is still 90 percent jazz and world music, with a smattering of new age and only Democracy Now! holding down the mission!). They don’t even have FSRN. If programming remains as far from the mission as it currently is by, say, October (which would be a travesty), I would personally favor not enfranchising contributors to that station at all (except by virtue of other qualifying criteria, of course) during the first LAB election.

Obviously, the above is a subjective evaluation. More precise criteria for mission compliance (which are needed anyway) should be developed and used to come up with dates that may be more precise than those presented above. Local LABs and listeners’ organizations should also be consulted.

Contribution of Labor

Contribution of labor of 3 hours or more to a mission-compliant station provides a good indicator of support for the station and its mission, as well as knowledge of issues affecting the station. Enfranchisement on this basis should be subject to the same station-specific restrictions regarding the date on which volunteer activity was recorded as are described above for the contribution of money. That is, only volunteer activity on behalf of a station whose programming is fairly mission-compliant at the time the activity occurred should be a basis for enfranchisement.

Proof of such service will be in the form of an affidavit signed by the volunteer coordinator of the station, or else may be based upon any station records that were maintained regarding such volunteer activity, for only those stations that maintained such records in a consistent and uniform manner.

I do not believe that adequate records have been maintained of volunteer work with the listener and LAB lawsuits or with the Pacifica campaign to allow for enfranchisement on that basis. If this is incorrect, then such enfranchisement should be considered.

Constituency-based Criteria Sufficient Only in Combination with Other Criteria

Membership in certain constituencies can be a good predictor of a predisposition toward agreement with Pacifica’s mission based upon either self-interest or the lessons learned about the status quo and the need for alternative views that come from being a member of those groups. However, such membership alone is no indication at all of knowledge of, or even interest in, the station, its issues, or of the positions of the candidates who are running for the LAB.

Therefore, I do not support enfranchisement of people based solely upon their membership in a particular constituency. Instead, I suggest that membership in a constituency should be used in combination with other criteria whose satisfaction indicates an interest in and knowledge of Pacifica’s mission, and of the candidates.

Specifically, I suggest that membership in certain constituencies should result in enfranchisement if application for such enfranchisement is made in person at an official candidates’ night election event. Presence at such an event gives a strong indication of interest in Pacifica and its mission, and would virtually ensure a working knowledge of the candidates and of the issues surrounding the election.

Since most people who support Pacifica would be willing to contribute money to it if they could afford to, and therefore would qualify on that basis, the constituencies selected for special enfranchisement should be further limited to those that include a large number of people who have very little money.

I suggest that the following groups be allowed to receive ballots and to vote even without making a contribution of money or labor, if application for such a ballot is made in person at the end of a candidates’ night event:

  • Persons who are currently unemployed and can prove it.
  • Persons who are currently receiving welfare and can prove it.
  • Persons who are on a welfare-to-work program and can prove it.
  • Persons who made an hourly wage that is less than 25 percent more than the minimum wage and can prove it.
  • Persons who are between the ages of 14 and 18 and can prove it.
  • Persons who are collecting disability and can prove it.
  • Persons who can show a public transit monthly pass in an area in which public transit users are preponderantly poor. For example, in Los Angeles, but not in New York.

I suggest that an official representative or representatives of the Election Coordinator should be required to be present at each official candidates’ night event, and that such representatives should be empowered to test for the above criteria and to issue ballots (with name, address and a PIN number filled in) to those who satisfy it (see "Instant Voter Registration," below).

I would personally like to enfranchise interested prisoners, but it seems to me that there are problems with this. The prisoner is living in an extremely vulnerable situation and his or her vote could easily be coerced or a ballot sent to the prisoner could be stolen. And, of course, there is no way for a prisoner to attend a campaign event in order to register in person, so how could we know that that person is truly interested in Pacifica and its issues? I would like the iPNB to think further about this but as of the present writing I cannot make a strong recommendation one way or the other.

Instant Voter Registration

In the KPFA model, voter qualification is a passive activity. That is, people who have already contributed in the interval prior to the campaign period, or who have already done volunteer work in this prior interval, are qualified by that process. I suggest that, in addition to such passive registration, registration of voters should be continued in a highly controlled manner (at candidates’ night events only) during the campaign interval as an active process through which people who have been inspired by the candidates and informed by the campaign process can make a commitment to the station during the campaign interval and hence become qualified to vote. I suggest that we build these candidates’ night events into huge events that will bring more mission-supportive people into the elections and into membership at the station.

To accomplish this, I suggest that listeners who attend, in person, an officially recognized candidates’ night, should be able to instantly qualify as eligible voters based upon the combination of the fact of their attendance at that event plus either a qualifying donation made at the event or the presentation of evidence that they belong to one of the constituencies described above (e.g., unemployed, welfare recipients, etc.).

Such instant registration will be possible only at such officially recognized candidates’ night events, and will be performed only by official representatives of the Election Coordinator. Such a representative would be required to be present at each such official candidates’ night event.

Once a person qualifies via instant registration at an event, a ballot will be filled in (with identifying information only) on the spot with that person’s name and address by the representative of the Election Coordinator who registered that person. The address supplied must be verified at the event using positive I.D. (e.g., drivers’ license, etc.).

Each ballot in the stack of ballots brought to such an event will be pre-printed with a PIN number, and all ballots at an event will have PIN numbers in a certain range that will be recorded in advance by the Election Coordinator. In the event of the loss or theft of ballots at an event, all ballots in the associated range other than those specifically recorded as having been given to qualified voters (i.e., all ballots not accounted for) will be disqualified.

Statement of Support for Pacifica’s Mission

Each ballot should contain the full text of Pacifica’s Mission Statement (Article II, sections c, d and e), and voters should be required to sign a statement affirming that they support Pacifica’s mission and that they will vote for those candidates who they believe are most likely to successfully carry it out.

Disqualifying Criteria

Any voter who accepts compensation of any kind in exchange for voting for a certain candidate should be disqualified.


Candidates’ Night Forums

If a community group wishes to hold a campaign forum, it may do so, and may invite any candidates that it wishes – not just the entire set. I don’t see how we can practically prevent this. If we were to disqualify any candidate who attended such a non-sanctioned event, how could we distinguish between legitimate community meetings on other topics that this person may be attending or leading and a campaign event? It would simply be unenforceable, and, if somehow enforced, would result in an unacceptable interruption of the valuable organizing activities performed by many effective community leaders who might be running for LAB seats.

However, certain advantages should be provided only to officially recognized forums (such as on-site instant voter registration, as described above, and announcements of the forum on the air) that will not be provided to other events. To be an officially sanctioned forum, the following criteria must be met:

All candidates must be invited to the forum

The organizers of the forum must inform the election coordinator of the date, time and location of the forum at least eight days prior to its occurrence. The coordinator is responsible for letting all candidates know of the forum in time for them to attend if they should choose to do so, and for ensuring that announcements occur on the air and by other means (e.g., the station’s Web site) in a timely manner.

Official forums may not overlap in time, as in that case all candidates will not be able to attend. In cases where people are organizing forums and request the same time slot and an understanding cannot be arranged, the Election Coordinator may suggest the combining of the forums. If either group is unwilling to do this, then the Election Coordinator has the right to decide which group’s forum will be granted official status.

The moderator for the forum must be supplied by the Election Coordinator’s office.

If a forum is an "official" forum, the Election Coordinator will provide the following advantages to it:

  • Announcement of the time and location of the forum on the air for the seven days prior to the forum, and at least three times each day, during drive time. Such announcements must be made at the same time as all other candidates’ forums being announced.

    No unofficial forum or other public event that includes a candidate as a presenter may be announced on the air during the campaign period.
  • On-site registration of voters will be provided to attendees of the event by the election coordinator in person or through a person designated by the coordinator, as described elsewhere in this document.

Special Statements and Other Campaign Materials Produced by Paid Staff

Paid staff, since it would be deprived of voting LAB representation under this proposal, should get to make a joint statement that is signed only as "paid staff" (not with any individuals’ names) reflecting its views on candidates in the listener elections. Ideally, this statement would reflect paid staff’s perception of the impact that the various candidates would have upon working conditions and the "on the ground" functioning of the station, but it should not be officially restricted in any way. This statement would be inserted into the packets accompanying every mailed ballot, along with candidates’ statements.

In addition, paid staff would be able to submit a certain (TBD) number of questions to be asked of candidates at every candidates’ forum, both on-air and off, and could submit a statement regarding the candidates of a certain length (say, one page) which would be read at each such forum. They could also make endorsements. But none of their individual names could appear on any of this material.

The philosophy at work here is that paid staff should be given a chance to take its case and its preferences for certain listener candidates to the listeners, who, as parties without a personal conflict of interest, should ultimately decide whether to accept or reject the views and listener candidates that have been identified as desirable or undesirable by staff.

Similar statements might be considered for inclusion by unpaid staff, as well, but these should be more limited (in terms of length of statement and number of questions) than those of paid staff, since unpaid staff would have voting seats under this proposal.

Tallying of Votes

The STV method should be left in place, unchanged from the KPFA model, for the first phase of election processing.

Diversity criteria should also continue to be applied. I support diversity criteria because it will help to break up the cycle of an audience that is out of balance racially or gender-wise electing an out-of-balance LAB which then targets programming to the audience that elected it, which in turn selects more listeners of the same type, who in turn elect still more LAB members of their own race and/or gender, and so on.

However, diversity criteria raises the possibility that a candidate who had very little popular support might be declared elected due to a shortage of candidates for a particular cohort. The true solution to this problem is to recruit an adequate number of well-qualified candidates from each of the diversity cohorts. However, as an added measure, I suggest that a minimum number of total votes (including transferred votes) should be specified as required in order for a candidate to be considered for promotion during diversity processing. This test for minimum votes will be applied at the point just before a candidate that has been eliminated from the "Continuing Candidates" during STV has its votes transferred to other candidates who are still in the "Continuing" set. Say, ten percent of the STV "quota" required to positively elect a candidate. Any candidate not having this minimum number of votes at the end of STV should be eliminated from consideration, unless they are already part of the seven candidates who are highest in the STV ordering. This will prevent candidates having less than this minimum amount of voter support from being selected solely on the basis of diversity criteria.

For example, in an election of five open seats involving 10,000 returned ballots, the STV quota would be 10,000/5, or 2,000, and therefore 10 percent of that amount, or 200 ballots, would be required at a minimum in order to consider a candidate for promotion during diversity processing.

I also suggest that diversity criteria be applied based upon target goals for the racial and gender balance of the entire LAB, not the seats being elected during a given year (which was the KPFA approach). This will work to prevent cumulative imbalances from building up over the years.

The KPFA rules for applying diversity criteria are ambiguous, and this has caused problems in past KPFA elections. The definition of those rules in the KPFA approach is as follows (from http://www.cfdp.org/Democratization/labprop3.htm):

"E.4 The goal of the election is to have near-equal representation of gender and race/ethnicity among the 14 Listener/community representatives. This means the Board should seat no more than 8 men or 8 women, AND no more than 8 racial/ethnic minorities (or people of color) or 8 non-minority. Accordingly, the resulting Board balance should be 6-8 or 7-7 on each of these two diversity characteristics (gender and race/ethnicity) depending on the results of each year's election.

"E.5 Because seats will be staggered two-year terms, each year's election will typically elect half (either 3 or 4) of each diversity cohort.

"E.6 The Election Coordinator will determine the winning candidates using the Choice Voting method of counting preferential votes, with the added criteria of meeting the diversity goals. This modified system will elect the most-preferred candidates whose addition to the board best meets that year's diversity goals, skipping candidates if necessary.

"E.7 For example, if 2 men and 4 women have already been seated, for the final seat the Election Coordinator shall skip higher-ranked women in order to seat a third man. If no male candidate remains, then the highest-ranked woman shall be seated. If, out of six seats, 4 women and 4 non-minorities have been seated, and no male minority candidate remains for the final seat, then the highest-ranked man or person of color shall be seated. Candidates skipped in this process will have their ballots redistributed among the remaining candidates to ensure that voters' preferences are still accurately reflected."

I suggest that the more rigorous criteria devised by Voting Solutions, the company that created the program used to tally KPFA’s elections, should be used.

That method for applying diversity criteria is as follows:

  • If either the male/female axis (of the entire LAB) is unbalanced (as a result of selecting the top 5 candidates in the initial ordering) or the of color/not of color axis is unbalanced, or both:
    • Find the highest ranked candidate in the ordering such that a sufficient number of candidates in at least one of the currently underrepresented diversity cohort(s) (i.e., male/female or of color/not of color) exist at or above that candidate that if all such were selected the deficit(s) would be corrected.
      • If this "pivotal" candidate addresses only the male/female deficit, then select that candidate + all higher-rated candidates of the underrepresented gender and declare them to be "undefeatable."
      • If this "pivotal" candidate addresses only the of color/not of color deficit, then select that candidate + all higher-rated candidates of the same of color category and declare them to be "undefeatable."
      • If this candidate addresses both deficits, then select all candidates who are either of the same gender or color category and declare them to be "undefeatable."
  • Next, the entire process of transferring ballots based upon STV is run again.
    • "Undefeatable" candidates will not be eliminated during this repetition of the STV process, even when they have the smallest number of votes.
    • Therefore, the "Undefeatable" candidates will remain within the Continuing Candidates at all times and will continue to collect transferred votes from both the surplus votes of candidates who have reached "quota" and from candidates who have been eliminated (including those who were rated higher than they were in the initial ordering).
    • •This honors the lower preferences of those who voted for the candidates who were eliminated as a result of diversity processing
  • If the "pivotal" candidate selected above addressed only one diversity axis, and there is still a deficiency in the other axis, then:
    • Find the highest ranked candidate in the current ordering such that a sufficient number of candidates in the deficient cohort exist at or above that candidate that if all such were selected the deficit would be corrected.
    • Select that candidate + all higher-rated candidates of the same gender or color (depending upon the diversity axis still requiring correction) and declare them to be "undefeatable." Candidates declared undefeatable earlier remain so as well.
    • Run the STV process again as described above
  • The 7 Candidates who end up being selected by the final round of STV, as described above, are seated.

The latest version of the "Choice Plus" program as modified by Voting Solutions for the KPFA elections supports the feature of running STV with some candidates declared as "undefeatable," which is necessary for the above processing to be used.

If the above does not quite make sense to you yet, take a look at the presentation on the KPFA elections that can be found at:


For an example showing how the STV process (without diversity criteria) is used by the Choice Plus program to process an actual election, visit http://www.fpnn.org, select FPNN CC Election Reports, and then select the link labeled "Election of the FPNN’s reps to the General Manager Search Committee."

Election Tallying Software

I suggest that "Choice Plus," the same program as was used for the KPFA elections, be used for all LAB elections. Since the full version of this program costs $15,000, I suggest that we look into licensing it for all of Pacifica rather than separately for each signal area.

Means of Voting

Internet Voting Should be Disallowed

Internet voting, which was allowed during the KPFA elections, should be disallowed, because it makes voting more convenient, and hence more likely, for people who are on the enabled side of the digital divide.

Validation of the Election

Validation of an election is one of our most important defenses against attempts by corrupt candidates or by outside organizations to manipulate our electoral process.

I suggest that the Election Coordinator should be allowed to declare that a situation has arisen that calls into question the validity of the election. This may be done at any time from the start of the Campaign period until one week after all results have been tallied. Results of the election should not be announced until the elections results have been certified by the Election Coordinator.

If the Election Coordinator declares the election’s validity to be questionable, a vote will be taken among all of those sitting LAB members who were not candidates in the current election. If a simple majority of those LAB members agree that the election was invalid, then the reasons for this decision must be announced and the election will have to be held again as soon as the problems that led to its being voided can be corrected. In the meantime, sitting LAB members will remain seated through the expiration of their present terms. If any seats expire while the new election is being organized, those members will cease to have voting rights until the new election has been held.

If the Election Coordinator does not declare the election’s validity to be questionable, then those sitting LAB members who were not candidates in the present election may declare it to be invalid provided that at least two thirds of them agree that that is the case.

The following are some of the criteria that should be considered as a basis for invalidating an election:

  • Purchase of sufficient votes or other bribing of voters on such a scale that it is deemed likely to have affected the outcome of the election.
  • Promotion of a candidate or candidates by an organization whose goals are inimical to those of Pacifica for purposes of taking over the station and/or the Pacifica network. For example, if a mailing were done by an organization of the religious right to its members urging them to vote for specific candidates in a LAB election, then if that were deemed to have had a significant effect upon the outcome of the election, the election could be voided. Or, if any organization whatever (including those from the left or from the right) were to specifically state in a communication to its members that its purpose was to take over the station or Pacifica in order to further its own agenda rather than Pacifica’s, then if that communication were deemed to have had a significant effect upon the outcome of the election, the election could be voided.

By limiting voting to those LAB members who are not candidates and by requiring a super-majority unless the Election Coordinator initiates the process, we will tend to prevent abuses of the validation process. This makes it possible to allow an election to be invalidated based upon criteria that are defined in a fairly broad manner (e.g., the criteria described above).

Note: Other than the above, the other remedy for a bogus election is the recall process, which also results in a completely new election.

Removal of Seated Members

Recall Provisions

Rather than requiring that the entire LAB be recalled if any member is to be recalled, I suggest that only those Board members who were all originally elected during the same earlier election (including their successors due to the filling of vacancies) may be recalled in any particular recall election.

I suggest two different levels of recall election, one of which can be activated by gathering a number of signatures from eligible voters equal to only 10 percent of all votes cast, and the other of which can be activated only with a number of signatures equal to at least 20 percent of all votes cast in the earlier election during which the seats to be recalled were elected.

In the "10 percent" recall election, all LAB members and their successors who were elected in a particular election (typically, five members for any given election) must be recalled in that case, forcing a new election to be held for those same seats involving the same candidates as in the prior election, plus, at the option of those collecting the signatures (and this must be stated in advance, on their recall petitions, so people know what kind of a recall they are signing for) any candidates from the two elections before that election (that is, the two elections that resulted in the election of the other members of the current sitting LAB and their successors due to vacancies, if any) who are not currently sitting on the LAB, except of course for those persons who declare themselves as being unwilling to serve. So, the "10 percent" recall involves two variations: one with only the same candidates as in the original election as participants, and the other with a broader field allowing candidates from the original election plus the two prior elections as participants. The latter option is intended to deal with a situation in which two few candidates would be available under the former, more restrictive, option. The petitions provided for either option should be standardized and only official petitions, as approved by the Election Coordinator, should be accepted.

Under the "10 percent" recall option there is no nomination period, and the campaign period is shortened to 15 days, including at least one on-air forum, which should be long enough to explain to people the issues that led to the recall election.

A "20 percent" recall election is the same as a "10 percent" recall election, except that instead of drawing candidates from the two prior elections, only those who were candidates in the election that resulted in the seating of the recalled LAB members (including the recalled members themselves) are automatically qualified to run in the recall election, and additional candidates may be nominated in the usual manner without the necessity of their having run in a prior election. In other words, the full nomination period plus campaign period are re-run in a "20 percent" recall election, making this a significantly more burdensome option. We need this option in order to deal with a situation in which insufficient numbers of acceptable candidates from prior elections are available to run, so that those sitting on the LAB can still be recalled in that situation if required.

Recall of an individual LAB member should still not be supported. This is because such a recall could allow the majority to remove a LAB member who represented a minority viewpoint, thereby defeating proportional representation and/or diversity adjustments. However, by recalling all of those LAB members who were seated during a particular election (as described above), we avoid the problem of the majority ganging up to remove a LAB member who represents a minority viewpoint, without having to re-elect the entire LAB.

Diversity criteria in such a recall election should be applied based upon the numbers of people in each diversity cohort of the seated LAB members who were recalled, rather than that of the entire present Board at the time of the recall election. That is, if there happened to be three persons of color and two not of color elected in the election in question, then the new election’s diversity target will be at least two persons of color and at least one person not of color (that is, we allow "wiggle room" of one seat in our diversity criteria, just as is allowed in the regular elections).

In the event of such a recall, the recall election should be run with all candidates from the original election who are still willing to serve, only. This will reduce the overhead of the election process by eliminating the nomination and campaign intervals that would be present for a regular election.

Those elected in such a recall election should only be able to serve out the remaining term of the original candidates.

Other Disqualifications

Any LAB member sitting in a listener-elected seat or an unpaid staff seat (i.e., a seat having voting rights on the LAB) who accepts a paid position on staff will automatically lose membership on the LAB, creating a vacancy to be filled in the manner prescribed elsewhere in this document.

Any LAB member who accepts compensation or favors in exchange for actions as a LAB member should be removed, creating a vacancy to be filled in the prescribed manner. I am not certain how determination of such acceptance should be made. The obvious method would be to have a unanimous vote of all LAB members other than that member. However, this could conceivably result in the majority removing a representative of a minority viewpoint based upon that person’s views. Another approach would be to require that all LAB candidates sign a legally binding contract agreeing to resign if found to have accepted such a bribe. Then, the case could be decided in a civil court. If our lawyers determine that this option is not feasible, then it may be necessary to leave the removal of members accepting bribes up to the regular recall process.

Filling of Vacancies

Vacancies should be filled by consulting the ballot records of the most recent election and choosing the candidate who would have been selected by the tallying process had the removed LAB member not been running in that election (if the candidate ran in the last election) or else the next-most-preferred candidate from the last election if the removed LAB member was not a candidate in that election. If no such candidate were available, then the seat should remain unfilled. Any such replacement LAB member would serve only the remainder of the removed member’s term. If total membership on the LAB drops below a certain number (say, 10), as a result of unfilled vacancies, then a special election can be called to fill the vacant seats, but those elected will only serve the remainder of the terms of the vacating members who they are replacing. Those rated highest by the tallying process in that case would fill the vacancies having the longest remaining time in their terms.

Public Explication of the Tallying Process

At each official on-air and community candidates’ forum, the voting process should be explained to people. Such explanation could include the following:

  • The fact that proportional representation will help to ensure that minority viewpoints get some representation
  • The fact that there is no advantage in not specifying a full range of preferences to the chances that one’s most preferred candidates will be selected
  • The fact that diversity processing may have the effect of changing the outcome of the election
  • A clear English explanation of the tallying process should be produced for voters’ use. This should be made available on the Internet and by request to any person who asks.
  • Asking for this should be as simple as checking a box on the ballot.

It would be OK for these materials to be provided even after the voter submits the ballot. They are mainly important so that people can understand the outcome and confirm that it conforms to the process that was defined for vote combining and diversity adjustment.

A clear description of the actual number of votes received by each candidate, the various stages of vote combining during STV, and the application of diversity criteria, should be published on the Internet.

Choice Plus software already supplies a specific "trace" of its processing that would serve to explain the STV part of the election’s tallying to the voters. We need to extend that tracing or else supplement it by manually preparing an explanation of what occurred during diversity-related processing.

Suggestions Pertaining to Staff Seats

Separate Elections for Paid and Unpaid Staff

The paid and unpaid staff elections should be separate.

Volunteer staff should not be allowed to run in paid staff elections, and paid staff should not be allowed to run in volunteer staff elections

Secret Ballot

Staff elections should be required to be by secret ballot, and should be supervised by the Elections Coordinator.

Supervised Elections

The method of tallying votes and of diversity criteria should be the same as for the listener-elected seats, only adjusted for the number of seats (4) to be elected.

No Staggering of Staff Elections

Since staff has fewer seats than the listeners have, in order to support the use of proportional representation, all paid seats and all unpaid seats, respectively, should be elected at the same time – i.e., staff elections should not be staggered, and staff should be allowed to decide itself upon the appropriate length of a term.

Automatic Candidate Qualification for Staff Elections

No nominating signatures should be required for a staff member. Anyone who wishes to run should be placed on the ballot. This is to avoid any management harassment of paid or unpaid staff during the signature gathering process, which will almost certainly have to occur at the station and therefore would expose staff’s preferences for candidates to management and others, destroying some of the secrecy of the voters’ choices. There are not that many paid and unpaid staff, so hopefully there would not be an impractical number of candidates. The STV voting method does not require that every candidate be listed on every ballot, so people could deal with an overwhelmingly large field of candidates by voting only for those with whom they were familiar if they so chose.

Staff and Listener Seats

Unpaid staff may run for a listener seat if they like, so long as they are not on-air personalities. The same person may not run for both a listener and an unpaid staff seat

No paid staff member should be allowed to run for a listener seat without first resigning from her or his paid position.

Both paid and unpaid staff should be allowed to vote for LAB candidates running for listener seats.

Restrictions Pertaining to LAB Representatives Elected by Staff

Paid Staff

Because we are moving into a situation in which the LABs are likely to have more input on personnel and programming issues at the station, it would be a conflict of interest for LAB representatives elected by paid staff (who are therefore staff members themselves) to vote on the LAB.

For example, retribution could be threatened by other (non-staff or staff) members of the LAB, thereby compromising the independence of their votes.

Also, and more obviously, paid staff might vote in favor of policies that directly benefit them as employees.

Therefore, I suggest that the four LAB seats elected by paid staff should be non-voting seats.

Unpaid Staff

Unpaid Staff should retain the voting power of their four elected seats.

Unpaid staff members serving on the LAB should be protected from dismissal from their volunteer duties during their tenure as LAB members and also during the campaign period. The only way to dismiss an unpaid staff member who is currently serving on the LAB should be if unpaid staff votes for a recall election (of all of its four seats), and in the new election, that staff member is not re-elected.

For one year following the end of an unpaid staff rep’s tenure on the LAB, if the former rep believes that management has shifted her or his volunteer duties in a way that constitutes retribution for actions performed while on the LAB (or removed them from all duties in a retributive manner), the former member may call a vote on this among unpaid staff. If unpaid staff agrees by a simple majority that management’s actions constitute retribution, then management may not shift these duties or dismiss that member from volunteer duties without a vote of approval by the majority of unpaid staff. Management in this case includes the LAB itself, if the LAB has the power to directly influence personnel decisions at the station.

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